The trouble with the public sector (wasted money in education)


I was told this story by a close contact so I know it is true.  I have tried not to identify the school or local authority involved.  There is massive waste in the public sector – and this story illustrates some of the failings of the system.

The story starts with a local authority education ICT support service being called out repeatedly to an expensive laser printer (out of warranty) that wasn’t working.  The advice from the LA was that they had visited it too many times, couldn’t mend it and a new printer would be required.  The person dealing with the authority thought it might be economical to repair the printer so pushed for the LA to send it for repair.  After much insisting the LA agreed to help – and it transpired the printer manufacturer actually had a service plan with the authority so an on-site visit would happen – at no charge to the school.  When the printer technician came to visit he told the school that these are reliable printers and rarely go wrong, so if the screen says ‘paper jam’, the printer does in fact have jammed paper.  He removed all the toner cartridges and removed a piece of paper – saving the school from having to buy a new one.

One of the teachers mentioned that her white board wasn’t working either – and wished it could be sorted out the same way.  It turned out the white board had been visited by the same technician from the LA several times and written off for replacement.  When the school called the LA ICT dept, they were told the call had already been passed to sales for a replacement.  The school on a last ditch attempt to save money called Promethean who talked the school through installing new drivers – and behold the board worked flawlessly.

The LA were most apologetic when confronted but the fact remains that the terrible advice was given, and that a school nearly wasted thousands of pounds that could usefully be spent elsewhere.  No thought was given to the cost of these peripherals – it is just accepted that the taxpayer has bottomless pockets and can pay for everything.  This is why the public sector needs a good shakedown!

Picture © Bert van Dijk @ Flickr

Published by Rob Butler

Ex-science teacher, ex-school leader and full-time geek.

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